Shaker Stools 240 Mod-Part 1

My exploration of seating continues with a couple of Shaker inspired stools.  Many, many moons ago, long before GPS, we made a trip to Nashville for a friend’s wedding.  We had very little money at the time and knew this would be the only trip for that year.  Unfortunately our time in Nashville was less than pleasant, other than the wedding.  Anyway, on the trip home we began looking for any stop that would salvage the trip.  My wife scanned over the road atlas and stumbled on the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill just outside of Lexington, KY.  So, on a whim, we routed ourselves to the village.

We arrived late afternoon on a Saturday and were pleasantly surprised that they had overnight rooms.  As luck would have it there was a room available.  Not only that, they had a dining hall that served family style meals.  So we moved into our room and walked to the dining hall and had a very pleasant dinner by candlelight.

The next day we toured the village and I poured over the furniture and buildings as far as they would let me.  This was long before I had any tools or even a shop space, but the desire, the desire to build was there.  The last stop before leaving the village was the gift shop and there I bought three little books of scaled drawings of Shaker furniture.

That’s a bit of back story, but I thumb thru these books every now and again for inspiration.  This time around the stools caught my eye.  Actually the rocker has my interest, but I figure the stools will be a good way to get my head around the process.  These are simple stools and should nestle nicely with the kitchen island that I converted my old workbench into.

I like most things Shaker, there is an elegant simplicity in all that they built.  The one thing I have never been a fan of though is the woven tape seats.  Seats woven with muted earth tones are OK, but the brighter colors just look out of place to me.  So my stools will have seats woven with fiber rush.  It looks simple to accomplish and I personally like the look.

After playing around with the proportions and a little time at the drafting board, here is what I came up with.

Not too different from the original Shaker design, just tweaked slightly.  I’m building these stools with what I have on hand.  The legs will be red oak and the stretchers will be white oak.  The seats will be woven from fiber (paper) rush.  I’ve gotten off to start turning the eight required legs.  The goal is to crank out one leg after work every evening.  So far, so good.  I’m three for three. I’m actually getting pretty quick at it.  Quick being a relative term.  The story stick is a handy thing for this repetitive work too.

I deviated from the Shaker simplicity and added a single bead to the leg as well as a little wood burning.  You know I can’t not add some wood burning.  Just one more reason I would have made a lousy Shaker.

Greg Merritt

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3-Ply Moravian Chair-Part 4-Complete

The second chair went together pretty much as the first.

Continue reading

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3-Ply Moravian Chair-Part 3

Since my last post I have managed to turn and fit the stretchers for the second chair.  I truly do enjoy the spring pole lathe.   Nothing like and hour at the lathe after work to rid the mind of the stresses of my day.

With the parts for both undercarriages fabricated it was time to turn my attention to shaping the seats.  Given my whining about having to resort to using an electric router to round the edges of the back mortises and handle cutout, I really wasn’t looking forward to tackling the seats.  Once I got started however I found that I could do all of the shaping with hand tools.  So no electric router torture was needed. Continue reading

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3-Ply Moravian Chair-Part 2

Plywood sucks!

I’ve been in the shop every chance I get working on these chairs (technically back stools).  Mostly things have progressed reasonably well.  The first thing I tackled was turning the six legs.  This is a first for me.  Up until now all of my legged projects have received tapered octagonal legs.  For these chairs though, I wanted a leg that leaned a little more toward mid-century modern/Danish.  So a simple tuned leg with a very slight taper along its length towards the floor.  The legs went pretty quickly.  I managed to get almost two per evening after getting home from work. Continue reading

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Welsh Staked Stool-Part 3-Complete

I assembled the remaining three stools and added the texture and wood burning as with the first.  There were a couple of folks with questions regarding the order of assembly, so I thought I would go over that a little here. Continue reading

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3-Ply Moravian Chair-Part 1

Well, its time to tackle a chair.  For my first chair you would think that I would opt for a proven and well documented design.  Nah, where is the fun in that?

I’ve been kicking around an idea for a while now.  Sort of a mix of Mid-Century/Danish and traditional vernacular (staked) chairs.  A chair with no seat carving or steam bending, but still comfortable, strong and, hopefully, attractive.  A chair made with easily sourced material. Continue reading

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Welsh Staked Stools-Part 2

With the legs at the ready, I moved on to tackle the seats.  The seats are from a construction grade SYP 2×12.  When working with construction lumber, you have to really plan ahead and possibly get a little creative in order to end up with something decent.  I’m not opposed to having knots in my projects, but the trick is to keep those knots out of the joinery areas.  After a little trial and error I hade four usable slabs and a decent piece that may end up as a bench. Continue reading

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